TORONTO — Who saw that one coming? The 2017 NHL Draft Lottery had not one, not two, but three surprises.
There were cheers in New Jersey, high fives in Philly and fist pumps in Dallas, while Colorado’s hopes crumbled and rage roared in Vancouver.
Here are some observations from an interesting Saturday night in the hockey world.
Hall shall henceforth be known as ‘The Draft Lottery Whisperer’
If Devils forward Taylor Hall had his way his teams would never be involved in draft lotteries because they’d be in the playoffs. Suiting up for 453 career regular-season NHL games while never qualifying for the post-season must be tiresome yet being a draft lottery good luck charm has to be some kind of consolation prize, no?
It seems that’s what Hall has become. The 25-year-old was selected first overall in 2010 after the Oilers won the lottery and his teams have now come out on top in three of the past six seasons. The Oilers won in 2012 even though the Blue Jackets had the best odds. Buffalo had the highest percentage in 2015 but Edmonton landed Connor McDavid. Now in 2017, following his first season in New Jersey, the Devils won despite four teams having better odds.
Plus he had perhaps the tweet of the night when the winner was revealed.
Hallsy always seems to bring the 🔥 tweets on draft lottery night. A couple years ago when the Oilers won the golden ticket and the right to select McDavid, Hall sent this beauty.
Unpredictability is what makes the draft lottery great
No one could have predicted a top three of New Jersey, Philadelphia and Dallas. The weighted draft lottery system is designed in such a way that you shouldn’t be able to predict any three-team combination with much accuracy to begin with, but the point is the odds of those three teams each winning one of the draws was low.
The Devils had an 8.5 per cent chance of winning it all, the Flyers had a 2.4 per cent chance of finishing second, and the Stars won the third draw with 6.4 per cent odds.
The Avalanche had their worst season ever and held the best odds to win the lottery after a truly terrible campaign. Colorado finished the season with 48 points, which was 21 points fewer than the second-worst team in the league, yet they only ended up with the fourth pick.
Maybe this year’s results will act as a deterrent to any teams considering a tank job in the near future.
This one stings if you’re the Canucks
For the second straight year the Vancouver Canucks are slated to pick fifth in June’s draft. They fell from No. 3 to No. 5 in 2016, but this year dropping four spots hurts more.
As you can see from the reaction of Canucks fans on Twitter, Saturday’s lottery wasn’t enjoyable for those in Vancouver.
Team president Trevor Linden even seemed to be in damage control several hours prior to the lottery.
“I think the player you could potentially get at four or five could turn out to be every bit as good as the player you get at one or two,” Linden told Sportsnet before he knew where his team would be picking.
Post-lottery Linden also remained optimistic.
To rub some salt in the wound, however, the Canucks were extremely close to landing the top pick. The Devils’ winning four-number combination was “1, 5, 6, 12” while one of the Canucks’ combos was “1, 5, 6, 11.”
There were 14 teams unhappy with New Jersey winning, but being one digit off hurts all the more.
Stars are in unfamiliar territory
Dallas wound up third, which is the highest pick the franchise has had since 1988 when they were the Minnesota North Stars and chose Mike Modano first overall. Since moving to Dallas in 1993 the team has only had four top-10 picks. They were Valeri Nichushkin (2013), Scott Glennie (2009), Richard Jackman (1996) and Todd Harvey (1993) with Jackman being the only top-five pick of the bunch. He went fifth overall.
If Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier go one-two as expected, the Stars will have a difficult choice to make if they hold onto the pick. In Jeff Marek’s latest prospect rankings he had Finnish blueliner Miro Heiskanen as the No. 3 prospect, Mississauga Steelheads forward Owen Tippett at No. 4 and Portland Winterhawks standout Cody Glass at No. 5.
General Fanager makes a cameo
Vegas Golden knights GM George McPhee got stuck on the tarmac in Washington so he wasn’t able to make the trip to Toronto. Instead, the team’s hockey operations analyst Tom Poraszka represented the expansion franchise.
If Poraszka’s name doesn’t ring a bell with hockey fans, maybe they’ll recognize his former website. Poraszka was the founder of the extremely popular yet short-lived salary cap website General Fanager.
Not only did that website provide excellent cap and contract information but Poraszka also created a popular mock expansion draft tool. No wonder he landed a job with the Golden Knights.
Vegas joined Colorado, Vancouver and Arizona as teams that were leapfrogged by the top three teams. They’ll select sixth in their first entry draft and the local fans can’t wait to get things going.